In the fast-paced streets of sunny South Florida, a dangerous and deadly trend has taken hold: street racing. The thrill-seeking drivers zoom through the city’s roads at breakneck speeds, disregarding the safety of themselves and others. This dangerous activity has far-reaching consequences that extend well beyond the race itself.
In July, illegal street racers closed off roads and highways from Wynwood to Miami Gardens, along with other parts of Miami-Dade County. Cars and motorcycles, previously performing burnouts and donuts, fled the scene when cops arrived. However, photos and videos of the takeover were posted across social media.
The Impact of Social Media on Street Racing
On October 1st, 2022, a new Florida law went into effect allowing police officers to make arrests based on social media footage of illegal street racing events. Previously, a police officer had to be a direct witness to make an arrest. Violators of the new law may be fined between $500 and $1000 and may have their license revoked for up to one year.
With the rise of social media and ever-growing car culture, street racing has become a magnet for young drivers looking for excitement and recognition. However, the consequences can be catastrophic. From devastating accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities to the damage caused to public and private property, street racing leaves a trail of destruction in its wake.
Street Racing Charges Explained
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there were 7,710 citations issued for either street racing or stunt driving in Florida between 2018 and 2023. Street racing and stunt driving carry first-degree misdemeanor charges while participating as a spectator is classified as a non-criminal traffic citation.
The penalties for street racing include, but are not limited to:
- Driver’s license suspension for one year
- The vehicle impounded for 30 days
- A fine between $500-$5000, depending on the number of offenses
- A mandatory three-year license suspension following a third offense
- Required completion of a Florida Basic Driver Improvement Course and/or a Florida Advanced Driver Improvement Course
- The cost of vehicle towing may be added to a driver’s financial penalties. County towing or impoundment fees range from $300 to $1,600 on average.
If a street racing accident resulted in the death of an individual, the liable party may be convicted of a felony.
Injuries Caused by Street Racing
If someone is injured as a result of street racing, they may have a claim for damages. Assuming one incurs medical expenses because of a collision with a street racing vehicle, the personal injury protection benefits of the vehicle you own would be responsible for paying for 80% of the reasonable, related, and necessary medical expenses incurred. Assuming you are able to identify the driver of the vehicle street racing you may make a claim against them as well. However, the reality is that street car racers may not stick around to see what their reckless conduct may have caused. Therefore, you may make a claim with your uninsured motorist coverage for injuries you sustained. Uninsured motorist coverage is not required in Florida, but you do have a right to purchase it. Purchasing uninsured motorist coverage is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from the negligence of other drivers, regardless of whether you are injured by a street car racer or other vehicle.
What To Do If You Witness Street Racing
The FLHSMV recommends bystanders remain calm, pull over if driving, and report the incident. Individuals may call the Florida Highway Patrol at *FHP (*347) or emergency services (911) to report street racing or a street takeover. Any screenshots or documentation should be sent to StopRacing@flhsmv.gov.
Call Panter, Panter, and Sampedro
Even with harsh penalties, street racing continues to be a problem for our communities. The best way to protect yourself from these types of reckless drivers is to purchase uninsured motorist coverage.
If you or a loved one is the victim in this type of collision, time is of the essence. Our car accident attorneys have over thirty years of experience helping Florida’s families, obtaining verdicts and settlements of over $100 million. Give us a call to schedule a free case review at (305) 662-6178.